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Servant Leadership: Southwest Airlines

How servant leadership can bring your business to the next level

Innovative leadership, excellent management of non-human resources and a clear vision have all been essential elements in Southwest Airlines’ success; however, the company is proudest of the way they make the satisfaction of their customers and employees a top priority. In this video, Colleen Barrett, the former secretary-turned-president of Southwest Airlines, explains the concept of servant leadership, or why the best way to manage is by taking care of others first.

What is servant leadership?

Servant leadership is a term used to describe the managerial style of those who want to do good for the sake of doing good (for instance, helping their loved ones or a community), and realize they can use their abilities to help lead and manage others. As Tony says, “I think about what’s the best way to serve people. In business, if you do more for others than anybody else does, you dominate. That’s the bottom line.” The basis of a servant leader’s leadership skills relies on them providing solutions to their customers first and foremost. By focusing on the needs of others, they establish authority and likeability because they create positive change in the lives of those around them.

Servant leadership examples: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines was founded in the 1960s, but today the brand’s name is known nationally. The company is believed by many to be synonymous with flying, much as the brand Coca-Cola comes to mind when you think of soda — but this wasn’t always the case. The founding team at Southwest Airlines had to set themselves apart from their competitors, and they chose to do so by offering quality routes and even better service. They wanted to become the best airline on the West Coast and went toward this goal head-on.
servant leadership people on plane listening to flight attendant
The company believes that employees are one of their top priorities and goes out of its way to make them feel valued, which is one of many servant leadership examples prevalent throughout the business. The managerial team believes that not only is employee satisfaction of the utmost importance, but that if employees are happy and well taken care of, they will then create incredible experience for Southwest passengers. This creates travel memories that passengers remember positively, who then choose to come back to the brand again and again.

Southwest has attracted the attention of both customers and shareholders because they don’t focus simply on how to generate revenue; they put their emphasis on creating the best experience possible for their employees. When employees are happy at their jobs, they in turn go out of their way to make customers happy. These trickle-down benefits of servant leadership demonstrates how it can be helpful to your organization, be it a small local company or a large business such as Southwest. In the video above, Colleen Barrett stresses that treating team members as equals, regardless of their title or seniority, and letting your staff know you believe in them is crucial when creating a productive workplace environment.

Learn more about servant leadership

Are you looking to establish yourself as a leader and create a powerful business dynamic? Learn how to gain control and dominate your competition by downloading the 7 Forces of Business Mastery today.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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